How did Pasadena clarify its immigration policy?
Pasadena City Council unanimously declared on Monday night that city resources would not be used to enforce federal immigration laws. The resolution came after comments from Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the Justice Department would consider cutting federal grants to cities that refuse to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The resolution clarified the City’s policy towards immigration enforcement, especially in regards to Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez’s policies.
This isn’t the first resolution adopted in Pasadena against ICE. Late last year, the Pasadena Unified School District passed a resolution declaring its campuses “safe zones” and refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
But social justice activists within Pasadena pressured the City Council for a stronger position after the election of Donald Trump. Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP) and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) came together before the Monday night’s meeting to organize dozens of speakers, who urged the city to end all cooperation with ICE. Some also alleged that Sanchez’ claims to neutrality were inaccurate.
“Chief Sanchez, current policy does allow cooperation with ICE,” NDLON Attorney Emi MacLean said. According to MacLean, Pasadena police may assist ICE in traffic stops or other things, may operate jails for ICE, and may notify federal authorities of inmate release dates, for future deportation.
Sanchez denied that Pasadena police notifies ICE of any detainee’s immigration status, but District 2 Councilwoman Margaret McAustin pushed Sanchez to inform the community whenever limited partnerships, like those that arise during narcotics task force assignments, occur.
“I think this is very consistent with the flavor of what we’ve been doing,” McAustin said.
Aside from those assignments, Pasadena police did not cooperate with ICE on any enforcement operations last year, Sanchez said. He also said that ICE doesn’t inform the city of operations until well after they occur. He referenced the detention of Pasadena resident Carlos Ortiz, who was detained by ICE on Feb. 7 and remains at Adelanto Detention Facility.
“Irrespective of these policies, we need to state the obvious,” Sanchez said. “We don’t control the federal government.”
District 1 Councilman Tyrone Hampton also asked Sanchez what protections undocumented individuals would receive if they reported a crime. Many undocumented persons, including some who spoke during the public comment section of the meeting, said that they feared deportation if they reported a crime. Sanchez replied that Pasadena police wouldn’t even know the immigration status of any witnesses to a crime, and that witnesses have generally been afforded protections, no matter their status.
Although the resolution that was passed was stronger in some ways than what the social justice activists called for, MacLean stressed that it was only a first step. Mayor Terry Tornek agreed.
“My guess is that it will require further tweaking to make sure the community feels confident,” Mayor Terry Tornek said.